Produced several years before the historic Stonewall uprising for LGBT rights in 1969, director Nikolai Ursin's gently-activist short Behind Every Good Man (c. 1967) provides an illuminating glimpse into the life of an African-American trans woman. In strong contrast to the stereotypically negative and hostile depictions of transgender persons as seen through the lens of Hollywood at the time, the subject of Ursin's independent film is rendered as stable, hopeful and well-adjusted. The resulting intimate portrait serves as a rare cultural artifact of transgender life and African-American life in the U.S. at the mid-century.
Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive as part of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project, with funding provided by the National Film Preservation Foundation. Restored from three 16mm prints to a new 16mm preservation negative, restored soundtrack, and two new 16mm prints. Special thanks to Stephen Parr and Norman Yonemoto.
Learn more about the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project for LGBT Moving Image Preservation: ucla.in/2rfXsmh
February 3, 2019 Subject:
I'd like to live a respectable life, that's for sure.
I'd like to live a happy life.
I want to settle down, I believe everybody wants to settle down.
As far as marriage goes, I want a man that wants to go places, do things. Make something of himself.
You know the old saying: behind every good man is a woman.
[Dionne Warwick's song "Reach Out for Me" plays, stopping abruptly as she starts running after her missed bus.]
[Dionne Warwick's song "Don't Make Me Over" starts playing as the camera pans around her room, showing her getting dressed up.]
There was this time I was at this gas station, out in West L.A., and I went into the men's room, not because I was a man, but just because I wanted to go in the men's room, period. I don't think about which room to go into, I just, I have my choice, y'know.
So I was in this restroom, and, like, I was brushing my hair, and this guy walks in, very good looking, and he says, "Oh, excuse me miss, I must be in the wrong room, they must have the signs mixed up."
So in a very calm, masculine voice, I turned around and I said, "No, you're not in the wrong room, this is the men's room."
And by this time I notice that he had a badge on underneath his coat, and it was police.
So they took me outside, and they, you know, ran the usual make on me, to see if I was [undistinguishable] thing by the law, and since I wasn't, that made things groovy so we stood there and talked a while, and so one of the young ones, that was in the car, said, like, "It's too bad you're a boy because you're a real knockout."
And so I accepted the compliment.
[The Supremes's song "I'll Turn To Stone" starts playing after she puts the needle on the record, playing to the end of the film.]